Kansas Cooperative Council Held Youth Leadership Camp

 Participants and leaders pose for a photo by the Munchie Mart Cooperative as part of the Youth Leadership Camp held at Rock Springs 4-H Center. Pictured from left are: Jamie Boggs, KCC Program Coordinator; Janna Klassen, Montezuma, KS; Taylor Axtell, Montezuma, KS; Isaac Jirak, Udall, KS; Rebekah Harmon, Otis, KS; Lane Thompson, McPherson, KS; Ruby Howell, Preston, KS; Brian Briggeman, Arthur Capper Cooperative Center Director; Ali Paz, Hanston, KS; Brandi Miller, KCC president and CEO; Ashley McKenny, MKC Intern.


While summer provides a welcome break in the school routine for many, it also grants opportunities for real world learning experiences like those taught through the KCC Youth Leadership Camp. This pilot program was held for seven rural Kansas high schoolers at Rock Springs 4-H Center July 8-10, 2019.

“At this camp, the students set up a functioning cooperative business, in the form of a snack cooperative that they named Munchie Mart,” said Brandi Miller, president and CEO of the Kansas Cooperative Council (KCC). “The students created articles of incorporation and by-laws, maintained the business, and decided how to distribute patronage back to the members as well as how to share profits from non-member business.”

The camp was made possible through a cooperative education grant from the CHS Foundation as well as support from KCC sponsors and Kansas cooperatives. KCC partnered with Arthur Capper Cooperative Center Director Brian Briggeman to develop and deliver the training.

Among the camp highlights were opportunities to meet new people and make friends. Camper Ruby Howell, Pratt, Kansas, said “I didn’t know what a co-op was when I came to this camp, and so a thing I learned was member value. It is the most important thing, because a co-op is serving its members.”

Philanthropy was also a component of the camp as it illustrated the cooperative principle of Concern for Community. This group of students shared the profits with the Rock Springs 4-H Center as well as donated all remaining snacks to Kansas State’s Food Pantry called Cat’s Cupboard, which helps fight food insecurity among college students.

“Along with setting up the business, the students enjoyed many camping activities including an interactive team challenge course,” Miller said.

They also participated in a formal dining experience with etiquette training provided by Kansas State University’s Anne DeLuca.   

In addition to engaging young people, Miller said the camp was developed to educate high school students about cooperatives in an engaging way because sometimes those impacts are overlooked by young people in rural America.

“I appreciate the work in developing this program. It will be used to educate high school leaders on the importance of the co-op system,” said Jerald Kemmerer, CEO and general manager of Pride Ag Resources, Dodge City, Kansas. He added, “These campers can now share this information back in the local communities and lay the foundation for new cooperative leaders in the future.”

The campers agreed that they left with a new appreciation for the roles of their local co-ops.  Camper Isaac Jirak, Udall, Kansas, summed it up by saying, “I learned the importance of co-ops in our world and what they do for our community.”

Kansas Cooperative Council Offers Co-ops 101 for Interns


Thirty-five college interns from across the Midwest participate in a cooperative training program.

                 Topeka, KS – By 2030, the baby boomer generation will all be retirement eligible. This will open opportunities in agriculture for the next generations to move into leadership positions. In preparation, the Kansas Cooperative Council (KCC), is supporting younger generations and introducing them to the possibilities within the cooperative network.

                On May 20, 2019, thirty-five college interns traveled from across Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Illinois to learn about the cooperative business structure, patronage and how to get the most from their internship. KCC partnered with Arthur Capper Cooperative Center Director, Brian Briggeman, to deliver the training. In addition, Mitch Williams, President and CEO of KFSA Insurance Agency, shared leadership insights and how to make the most of an internship experience.

                Allayna Hanson, Summer Intern with MKC, enjoyed the program and said she was “excited to take what I learned here and apply it to my internship this summer. I am really excited about working with farmers and understanding why co-ops are important to them.”

                The interns will be participating in programs at Kansas based cooperatives and will spend their summer learning about agronomy, sales, communications and even information technology. Many people don’t realize the numerous career opportunities that are available in cooperative businesses.

“We value our intern program here at Jackson Farmers. Through this program we strive to provide hands on experience to the young people who become part of our team.  In return we get the benefit of their fresh ideas, and hopefully, down the road, a new permanent member of our team,” says Doug Biswell, President and CEO of Jackson Farmers Inc., Holton, KS.

The students value the experience as well. It gives them an opportunity to explore different career options and see cooperative career paths up close. “I am really looking forward to gaining management skills through this opportunity,” says Tom Harmon, Summer Intern with Skyland Grain LLC.

2019 Programming Dates Released!

Watch your mailbox, these Save the Date postcards will be mailed out to each of our members!



Cooperatives Commit to Kansas Communities

For some, a co-op might mean the tallest building in town, envisioning the towering grain elevators dotting the rural Kansas landscape.  It might mean the local telephone company, the folks that keep the lights on, the local filling station, or the local credit union, bringing services to communities that otherwise may have limited options.  But to me, a co-op is all these things and more. 

When I see a co-op, no matter the type, I think of a business that provides jobs to their local community, keeps profits in their local economy, pays local taxes and supports their community. In Kansas, co-ops operate in every county, serving over 600,000 members.  Member-owned, member-controlled co-ops are established because there is a need for service, often in rural areas and working cooperatively is the best way to provide service for the benefit of all members.

Cooperatives have been a vital part of the Kansas economy for over 100 years and while they focus on serving their members locally, their impact can be felt around the world.

October is National Co-op Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of cooperatives to Kansas communities and the commitments they make to their members.  The Kansas Cooperative Council is thrilled that the cooperative spirit is alive and well in Kansas.  Help us celebrate by visiting your local co-op and thanking them for their commitment to your community.

Guest Editorial from KCC Chairman James Jirak, Valley Coop, Inc.